Oman Oil Refineries & Petroleum Industries Company (Orpic) is in negotiations with preferred bidders for the Liwa Plastics project.

The petrochemicals company met with preferred bidders in Muscat on 26 October, and is planning to award the contracts by the first week of December, Hilal Abdullah Mohd al-Hinai, general manager, corporate support services, Orpic, told delegates at MEED’s Oman Projects Forum.

The preferred bidders are Italy’s Tecnimont; a joint venture of South Korea’s GS Engineering & Construction (GS E&C) and Japan-based Mitsui & Company; and Indian group Punj Lloyd.

Orpic representatives are also in South Korea negotiating export credit agency support for the South Korean elements of the project.

“They will give guarantees based on if it is a good project,” said al-Hinai on the sidelines of the conference.

Orpic plans to close around $3.6bn in financing at the same time as the contract awards. About 70 per cent of the funding should come from abroad, and Orpic is talking to around 30 international banks.

However, bank offer deadlines have been pushed back slightly, and banks still need to negotiate a bankable structure for their lending. There is believed to be high interest from international banks.

The project is intended to turn Oman into a producer of plastics products, as part of its downstream developments. Orpic plans to start with simple packaging and fibre products, then diversify into more complex products once its reputation and market has been established.

“We need to set up marketing capabilities internationally, and we have three or four years until the project is completed to do this,” says al-Hinai. “We hope to start construction in the first quarter of 2016, and commission the plant in the last quarter of 2018. It is quite a tight programme, but we think we can do it. We delivered Sohar refinery in 36 months.”